The Sedona Legend Web Site is a copyrighted historical photo enhanced narrative presented for
educational and entertainment purposes. Some materials may be displayed in regard to the
United States Fair Use Act. This web portal is totally non-profit and generates no income nor
does it seek or has it ever accepted a single donation. It is an independent venture.
Sedona Legend was envisioned and created to provide Red Rock State Park visitors a
comprehensive historic overview for Jack and Helen Frye and their Deer-Lick and Smoke Trail
Ranches. This effort is now officially cited by R.R.S.P. as an indepth historical venue
representing Jack and Helen Frye.
Sedona Legend is encouraged by the many friends of Jack and Helen Frye. A gracious thank
you to the Frye and Varner families for invaluable support and Red Rock State Park staff and
volunteers for their enthusiasm.
Sedona Legend Helen Frye a.k.a. the Jack and Helen Frye Story
A Decade of Research and Presentation- Created By Randall D. Reynolds
Copyright © 2003 All Rights Reserved
Thank You For Visiting Sedona Legend-
The Jack And Helen Frye Story!
Sedona's Celebrity Love Story!
This is the official, not to mention only, web portal in the world
dedicated exclusively to the legacy of Jack and Helen Frye!
The Frye Legacy-
a Lifetime of Accomplishment!
By Randall Reynolds
The F-1 F-2 Safari Envisioned by Jack Frye
On this web page we will address the last plane that Jack Frye designed in his life (the Frye F-1
and F-2 Series Safari). The images below are from the actual promo booklet as provided by Jack
Frye's sister Sunny Frye Thomas. Sunny had 2 such booklets and offered me one to keep;
however, I felt it best just to scan it instead, as I felt both booklets should remain in Frye
family hands. The promo booklet was sent to her by Jack Frye in the late 1950's.
Although the Frye Safari is somewhat well known, you will not find the airplane explored in
depth anywhere else in the world except on Sedona Legend. The images and text below were
compiled by Jack Frye himself (printed in March 1956). The Frye F-1 Safari became
well-publicized by 1957-1960. This DC3-like Frye designed workhorse never entered production,
this, only due to Frye's sudden death in 1959, but there was a full-size mockup at Frye's office.
Jack Frye was a genius when it came to aircraft innovation and design. He was responsible for
the ThunderBird (1926), and in part, the Alpha, Delta, Gamma, Douglas Commercial 1, DC-2,
DC-3, Constellation, Stratoliner, and Northrop Raider, (see note about the Northrop
Pioneer-Raider at the bottom of this page). Jack Frye held many patents and is widely
recognized for his contributions toward the development and promotion of aviation. It is
important to mention, that up until 1947, Jack Frye was the most skilled pilot ever associated
with early Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., and the specifications and diagrams, as seen
below, are evidence of a brilliant aviator who was not just an pilot, but an aviation engineer!
Please click on any images for larger files
Northrop Raider Lawsuit
(N-23 Pioneer) Production C-135, YC-125 Raider
August 23, 1949
Jack Frye sues Northrop Aircraft, Inc. for $265,000 plus another $165,000 for unpaid royalties.
A related lawsuit also named La Motte Cohu (president of Consolidated Vultee Corporation)
manufacturer of the aircraft. It is important to note that Cohu was CEO of Northrop (in 1944)
when he consulted Frye in Washington D.C. on the initial design of the plane which was a 3-
engine STOL type passenger cargo plane. Northrop agreed to compensate Frye for his work on
the plane at (1 percent royalty on each produced plane, plus other undisclosed considerations).
There were eventually 23 planes delivered by 1950 (thus the timing of the lawsuit).
Initially, as to be expected, Northrop denied any agreements with Frye. However, the size of the
lawsuit speaks volumes about its merit. The outcome of the suit is unknown, but likely it was
settled quietly out of court.
Interestingly, former Northrop head Cohu was named president of TWA shortly after Frye was
ousted in February of 1947 but he too faced insurmountable issues with Howard Hughes and
resigned after about a year, making a quick exit through the revolving TWA executive office
door as installed by Hughes and Noah Dietrich.
One survivor of the Raider is on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson AZ.
Jack Frye resigned from TWA in February of 1947, by July he was heading up the (unrelated to
aviation) General Aniline and Film Corporation. By April 1955 Jack resigned to start his own
company, the Frye Corporation based at Ft. Worth, Texas with initial production factories at
Hagerstown, MD., and later, proposed facilities at Las Vegas, N.M., and or Tucson, Arizona.
Jack Frye was president, Francis H. McKillip (vice-president and secretary treasurer), Joe H.
Tally (vice-president Engineering), Don M. Marshall (vice-president of Sales and Promotion).
In the evolution of the Frye Safari, the Frye Corporation employed 50 engineers who helped
Frye formulate his dream. By 1956, there was at a full-size Frye Safari mock-up erected in the
parking lot of Frye’s office building at Fort Worth, Texas. The display was used to orient
potential customers interested in ordering the passenger-freighter.
Initially, Frye's offices were at the Hotel Texas, 815 Main Street, Ft. Worth, Texas, and later,
617 Texas Street. The mailing address (always) P. O. Box 1375, Ft. Worth, TX. (Incidentally, the
Hotel Texas was where John F. Kennedy and Jackie spent the night (the day before) John was
assassinated in Dallas (the last place John ever slept). The main objective for Frye's new
venture was to design and produce the 50-passenger Frye Safari freighter. The new plane was
designed to fill a void in carrier service not satisfied with any other available aircraft of the
1950’s. Production was to commence by June of 1957. One of the Frye Corporation engineers
was Kurt H. Weil who was previously a designer of the immensely popular Junkers JU-52.
During this same time frame Frye also was heavily involved in the Helio Corporation which
produced small short take off and landing STOL aircraft. As one of the most remarkable
aircraft of its day these single engine planes were similar to the application of the Frye Safari
but much smaller. A twin engine Helio was also under consideration. Frye was active in moving
the operation from Pittsburg Kansas to Tucson Arizona, and by the time he died, in February of
1959, he had achieved this end. When the operations were eventually to be officially relocated to
Tucson, Frye was to become president and operations (CEO) head for the company.
Meanwhile, the Frye Aircraft venture was put on hold for a short time in the late 1950’s, due to
Frye not being able to secure adequate funding for production. Even though Frye had invested
1.3 million of his own funds by this point. By 1958, this project again was moving forward. One
particularly challenging aspect of the plane for Frye was keeping the cost per mile competitive
with other aircraft of the day. The Safari could achieve 350 m.p.h. with propulsion of dual turbo-
props and dual jet engines (4 units) in all.
There were 2 circulated versions of the Frye Safari. It is thought the original Frye Safari 1 was
fitted with the 4) 600 H.P. Pratt and Whitney engines, whereas, the Frye Safari 2 was fitted with
the 2 jet engines, and 2 turbo props. Configurations were similar for both transports, either all
passenger (51 persons), a combo passenger-freighter, or a strictly cargo-only layout.
Two of the more publicized airlines which committed to (6) new ($385,000 per plane) Frye Safari
transports were Wien Alaska Airlines (3) and Northern Consolidated Airlines (3). The
transport, basically an improved DC-3 (which had originally been spearheaded by Frye) was
expected to revolutionize airline service for Alaskan terrain as a special bush flight application
of the Frye transport. On March 18, 1957, Jack met with Donald C. McBain, president of
Catalina Airlines to finalize the sale of (2) additional Safaris (with of option of (2) more). This
sale was close to Frye's heart as he had negotiated air service for Catalina early on with his
Standard Air Lines and Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. Most importantly though, Jack
was the first aviator to ever land a 'land-plane' on Catalina; previously the island was serviced
exclusively by seaplanes. Always the entrepreneur, Jack delivered newspapers to the island, too,
in the mid-1920's. Total sales by 1958 had reached 24. The planes were also slated for sale to
Europe and Latin American regions.
Unfortunately this much needed transport was scrapped after Frye’s sudden death and all
contracts were voided. This was certainly a tragedy as the plane would have been the crowning
achievement for Frye’s career and many airlines were looking forward to the purchase of the
practical and efficient freighter-transport which would allow carriers to phase out the dated
Perhaps a gross misconception of the aviation world was that the Frye Safari was just another
untested “dream-plane” which was never produced. This was untrue, as the Safari was a bona-
fide wind-tunnel tested aircraft, completely licensed and approved to enter production when
enough capitol was secured. If Jack Frye had not died suddenly I have no doubt the plane would
be a viable member of the aviation workhorse family even today!
In compiling a timeline for the Helio-Safari project I have taken great care to not tread on
copyright restrictions and to use information from media in a legal manner. It is my
understanding that published quotes from deceased people cannot be copyrighted and this is the
basis for my using such occasionally on this website. Some of the information used in this
historical chronology was gathered from reporting by John Riddick who wrote for the Tucson
Daily Citizen. I do not want to appear to not offer credit when credit is due. Additional
information was gathered from other media sources. I am grateful for Tucson media sources,
without which, the accurate and historic saga of the Helio-Safari story would never be known. I
love Tucson, sharing such with Jack, and even aviation writer and Frye supporter, Robert
Serling, all of us former residents. And I, for one, am proud of Tucson's participation in Frye
aviation history. Jack Frye (as president-pilot of Standard Air Lines) launched and flew the first
scheduled airline service into Tucson in 1927 and was Arizona’s first recipient of the state's 1st
commercial and private pilot license as issued by the Arizona Corporate Commission. Jack Frye
supported Tucson and Arizona with TWA, and as an Arizona ranch owner (owning over 50-
thousand acres of AZ land) a small portion of which remains today at Sedona (as Red Rock
State Park). Property, I might add, was under Frye ownership for nearly 40 years! With an eye
for the early development of tourism in the state of Arizona, Jack Frye was there, front and
center, from the 1920's on with efforts which brought millions of dollars to our great state. Jack
Frye also died in Tucson and was buried there for many years (later reintered in Texas). This
man’s history with Arizona and Tucson is well established and revered, it is in this spirit, that I
make sure his contributions, as related on Page 1927, 1929, 1957, and 1959, are well-covered!
Jack Frye’s involvement with Helio has been difficult to discern. Helio historians themselves
appear to know little of the association. Thankfully, I have the newspaper archives to back up
such provenance and all my claims. Frye, in 1946, was instrumental in the development of what
was to eventually become the Navy’s Northrop Raider (explored above). This was the first STOL
design Frye was connected with but perhaps he had been interested in a slow moving plane from
his days of working with Tony Fokker. We must not forget that at one time Frye was the West
Coast’s only and biggest Fokker dealer and pioneered the use of this transport in passenger
applications. As to that end, it was Frye who was responsible for the DC series Douglas
transports which were an improvement in Frye’s mind of the Fokker transport.
Frye Partners With Robertson
April 21, 1955, TWA Skyliner (In-House Company Newspaper)
American Aviation Magazine (St. Louis)
'Former TWA President Jack Frye has teamed up with James L. Robertson, son of the late Bill
Robertson, St. Louis aviation pioneer, to form the Frye-Robertson Aircraft Co. to build
Robertson's novel lightplane, the Skylark, in Texas.'
Later in 1955, Jack Frye resigned his G.A.F. C.E.O. position and pursued his Frye Safari
project, another STOL design. As matter of fact, interesting to note, in American Aviation
Historical Society (Journal 51, 2006), it was stated “he (Frye) resigned from General Aniline in
1955 to form a new aircraft manufacturing company to produce a STOL airframe called the
Safari, based on the Helio Courier design.” Where they derived this information is not known
at this time but this publication is known for accurate and sound aviation reporting. Perhaps,
rather the Helio (and earlier Northrop) as well were the inspiration for the Safari.
The Helio design was conceived by Lynn Bollinger and Dr. Otto Koppen in about 1947, two
engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The the first prototype was flown
in 1949. Interesting, it is thought Lynn Bollinger and Frye knew each other in the mid-1940’s
when Frye was still head of TWA; however, I have not been able to confirm this yet. Certainly
though the Frye Safari was akin in design to the similar developed but smaller Helio and Frye
became involved with the company around 1957. The nuances of all these connections are
intriguing. However, this certainly is not meant to take anything away from Bollinger and
Koppen. Frye was brought on board to develop the company successfully for mass distribution.
By 1957, the Frye Safari project was stalled by funding issues and the difficulty in finding the
right location for production. At the same time (reasons unknown) the Helio Company desired
to vacate Pittsburg Kansas where they heretofore had been producing their product. The reason
may be no more than the fact that Tucson was a fertile location for a myriad of aviation
endeavors and still is. Having worked for a major airline at Tucson I can count many such
concerns that developed through the years, from Raytheon (originally the Hughes Falcon
Missile facility), United Airlines (UAL M.P.), Qantas Reservation Center, American Airlines
Reservation Center, Evergreen Air Center (overhaul facility for “heavy” fleet transports, space
shuttle service, and the same company that owns the Howard Hughes H-4 Hercules), Davis
Monthan (AMARC) mothball facility, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and lastly, a one time
Titan Missile base. This all, among many other operations like the one-time American West
Airlines based at Tempe Arizona, well- you get the picture. Jack Frye was in on the ground floor
of this explosion of development in the late 1920’s when he launched and piloted the first
Los Angles-Phoenix-Tucson passenger air service to Tucson’s Mayse Field. This at just 22 years
old! He also was one of the most influential men at the dawning of Los Angeles aviation, coupled
with air service and plane manufacturing, namely the ThunderBird speedster. Frye was, in fact,
one of the most influential men in the development of American aviation for his entire career.
Yes, Helio was partnering with a tried and true aviation genius and powerhouse.
To document the rest of this story we will use media files
so we can establish dates and relevant events
The first mention of a venture between Frye and Helio was in May of 1958 but I feel that the
date likely went back to at least 1957. The date of 1958 is just the first time something
newsworthy was mentioned in media sources and trade journals. Previous to this, Frye was
working behind the scenes for months trying to garner support for Helio with his aviation peers
and obtain funding for the new aircraft facility, something that required civic support. The
motivation on Frye’s part, I think, was to not only obtain funding for a Tucson Helio production
facility, but at the same time (from perusing all the media reports) Frye may have been hoping
to combine the Safari production along with the eventually established Helio facility. At the very
least one would open the door for the other. The following timeline derived from Tucson media
sources and other aviation materials chronicles the Helio association with Frye and Tucson.
Gruman Agrees to Build Frye Transport
January 15, 1957 (Unrelated to Helio)
Frye and Gruman Aircraft Engineering Corporation reached an agreement and signed a
contract to produce the new Frye Safari on December 24, 1956. Launch of production is only
contingent on the 15 million dollars capitol required to be banked first. Frye stated to the press
he has an order for 22 planes and they will retail for approximately $395,000 each.
Proposition for Safari and Second Aircraft Facility Proposed
June 17, 1958
In a public presentation Jack Frye is shown in a media photo with a model of the proposed Frye
Safari (the model still exists today), also joining him was Robert Schmidt, Tucson Airport
Manager. Frye discloses plans for a second airplane production plant, as well, and he also stated
to press that at some point he hopes to bring the Safari production into the equation. The
second company currently produces single engine planes while the Safari will be fitted with 2
turbo-prop engines and 2 jet engines generating a speed of 350 mph. Frye has invested 1.3
million of his own funds into the development of F-1 and F-2 Safari project. The undisclosed
secondary single-engine aircraft is already being successfully produced in another part of the
country. The aircraft company's name is confidential, “because of problems it would create at
the current building site," stated Frye.” Once the deal is consummated, 1 million will be needed
to move the plant and start production in Tucson. Frye also stated that 150 workers would be
employed initially, with an estimated 900, at the end of 5 years. The plane, said to be have
unique flying abilities has no competition and is currently being sold worldwide to six different
governments, whereas, Safari production would employ 500 workers initially, and an estimated
2000 when production reaches its full full capacity. R. W. F. (Robert) Schmidt, Tucson Municipal
Airport Manager was quoted as saying, “this venture has every indication of a great potential,
we would have something for which there is a need,” referring to Tucson commerce.
Forty-Three Tucson Businessmen Join Former TWA President Frye
in Pledge to Provide $500,000 for Proposed Aircraft Venture
Pioneer Hotel Downtown Tucson
June 19, 1958
In a meeting presided over by Jack Frye, former president of TWA, it was disclosed that
$500,000 would initially be required toward a goal of 1 million to bring 2 new aircraft production
plants to Tucson. This amount need be secured from Tucson investors while the rest of the
funding will be secured by Frye from other sources. Just with the sale of 100 planes, Frye
related, a $400,000 profit could be realized.
When questioned about the Safari, Frye stated, “it has been in development for 3 years and 1.3
million has already been invested in design and studies. The project will take 15 to 20 million to
get underway, we are working on getting a government contract, and I believe it can be done.”
R. F. W. Bob Schmidt got the attention of the crowd, when he stated the following (this from a
man who was the heart and soul of (T.A.A.) Tucson Airport Authority), “from where I sit, I
hear a lot of talk about what we could do if we had the opportunity…. now, we are exposed to
this.” He continued, speaking frankly, “I’ve put 10 years in this town, I want to know if we are
interested in this kind of thing. If not, I’m moving on.” (Schmidt is a legend in Tucson, as is the
development of the Tucson Airport, a glorious transition from start to what it is today. Robert
served as TAA/Airport manager from 1948-1964 and was one of the city's most powerful and
illustrious civic leaders.) Schmidt’s vision with this proposal was a hope that it would move
Tucson from military to peacetime economy.
Frederick R. Stofft (president of Tucson Airport Authority and 3 Star General) served as
chairman of the meeting. Many other civic leaders spoke in favor of the proposition to include a
letter presented on behalf of former TAA director Monty Mansfield, with comments from many
others, like Henry Dahlberg (TAA), and Arthur Hardgrave (former president of the Kansas City
Chamber of Commerce) which stated he knew Frye personally when he was president of TWA
and wholly endorsed his proposal and that of him personally. He went on to say projections show
the single engine plane project could generate as much as 94-million in trade dollars over a five-
'Oft repeated facts and figures were reported as to Frye’s background, his presidency of TWA
from 1934 to 1947, and his building up of this airline from just 600 to 17 thousand employees,
adding various new revolutionary planes to the TWA fleet, and expanding the company into a
“world empire.” In 1947 Frye joined General Aniline and Film Corporation as C.E.O. and
president (a position he held for 7 years), at which point, he resigned and started the Frye
Corporation, organized to produce the Frye Safari. At the close of the afternoon, Frye stated to
reporters, “I was very much pleased with the spirit of the meeting,” continuing, “I feel
confident the project can be worked out here (in Tucson).” Everyone left the Pioneer with great
expectations that the venture would bring a new milestone for Tucson's involvement in aviation
industry, let alone boost Tucson's commerce.
Helio Courier Presented to Philippine President Garcia
Washington National Airport, Washington D.C.
June 19 and 20, 1958
A blue and white Helio Courier landed at DCA, June 19 enroute from it is assumed, Pittsburg,
KS., where it was manufactured at the Helio factory. The plane, a gift from the citizens of
Seattle WA. was presented to President Carlos P. Garcia by United States vice-president
Richard M. Nixon on June 20. Seattle Mayor Gordon Clinton related that Seattle does more
than 20 million dollars a year in business with the Philippines, this in explanation of the
generous gift. Mrs. Leonila Dimitaga Garcia christened the Helio in the ceremony with water
from Seattle’s Cedar River and the Corregidor Bay (Manila). The pilot, 39-year-old Lawrence
Montgomery, of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, at Glendale California, will operate the
STOL aircraft in the Philippines. The plane will arrive there sometime in July to start service.
June 24, 1958
In a national released news story it was related that former president of TWA Jack Frye was
spearheading the development of a new airplane plant in Tucson Arizona. Money will be raised
in part by the sale of 500 thousand dollars in stock. This article stated the proposed company
(name not mentioned) currently had produced 90 planes last year and would employ 150 the
first year of operation in the southwest with 1000 employees at five years. The Frye Safari was
mentioned as a joint concern attached to the proposal.
Tucson Need Step up to Plate if Aviation Base of Commerce Desired
June 26, 1958
Civic leaders met on this day yet again to check the pulse of aviation commerce in Tucson in a
forum titled “The Future of Tucson’s Aviation” at a Chamber of Commerce Industrial
Development Committee (COCIDC) breakfast gathering. This, a group that Jack Frye spent
many hours lobbying over the course of several months. In a day of post-war shrinkage of
aviation production and related venues, Frye related that the proposed Helio was not dependant
on military contracts and had no competition in the world. Essentially, it was a real coup for
Tucson if they could just jump on board. Again, Frye stated that $500,000 was all that was
needed to be raised to secure the proposal for Tucson. Helio would initially employ 150 people
and reach 500 workers in 5 years.
The vice chairman of the COCIDC, Ben Clawson, also spoke, Clawson, who is also the manager
of Tucson’s Douglas Aircraft Company plant, conveyed among other concerns, the need for
larger facilities for production which changes each year and the fact that an aviation company
like Helio being offered to Tucson is a rare event and should be entertained. Al Hudgin of the
COCIDC, and also of Hudgin Air Service, expressed that the Helio was a sound and viable plane
and the only such design in production.
Frye again assured the members that he would be on board as manager of the new company if
the venture came to Tucson and the Frye Safari would be part of the equation as soon as a
government contract is secured.
Public Demonstration of Helio a Success!
June 30, 1958
The Helio Courier was embraced locally as “a remarkable piece of equipment” in a
demonstration at the Tucson Municipal Airport. Lawrence Montgomery, head of a missionary
supply flight organization, demonstrated the plane and hosted flights for local Tucson movers
and shakers. The smart looking blue and white Helio Courier, which will eventually see service
in the Philippines as tail number PI-36, was presented to Philippine President Carlos Garcia at
the nation's capitol last week by vice-president Richard M. Nixon, and was christened the
“Ang Diwa Ng Seattle” meaning the “Spirit of Seattle” (a gift from the City of Seattle to the
Philippine people). With great fanfare the Helio was busy all day in showboat flights, passengers
were Tucson financiers, endowed with the monetary clout needed to successfully launch the new
Helio facility. One after another the passengers experienced the planes remarkable short take
off (within 75 yards) and abrupt landing with short roll out. Remarkably, even its ability to
virtually hover in mid-air without a hint of stalling! The plane was feted by locals as “a new
sensation in flying.” Montgomery was accompanied by business associate Turner Blount.
In demonstrations it was proven the Helio could almost literally "turn on a dime" and could
practically climb straight up. Livingston demonstrated this as he pulled the plane up hot at 2000
feet per minute. At cruise he opened her up to 155 m.p.h. then he “hit the brakes” and slowed
the plane down to a mere 30 m.p.h. all without stalling! “You have wonderful control of the
plane,” Montgomery explained enthusiastically to passengers and newsmen, he continued, in
stating, “the plane is primarily designed for safety, the cabin is so strong you could run one into
a brick wall at 50 mph and not get hurt.” (Jack Frye had stated the same thing at one point.) At
the dawning of Tucson’s annual monsoon season, the weather was hot and windy, on the fringe
of massive thunderstorms yet the Helio didn’t miss a beat. Tucsonans were more than
impressed with the little miracle. Montgomery stated that the plane is a real asset in regions
like New Guinea and jungle areas where he has often had to put down in as little as a 300 foot
Just a few of the civic leaders entertained were Harold Steinfeld, Dr. Charles Di Peso, Mundey
Johnston, Robert Heyer (executive vice-president of Southern Arizona Bank), and Clarke Bean
(Bank of Douglas Arizona). Jack Frye stated to the group that funding should be met within a
few weeks as the sale of stock had been presented to the underwriters and he expected a green
light. Helio has thus far produced 100 planes at its home base of Pittsburg, KS.
Tucson Airport Authority Votes for New Plane Proposal
July 14, 1958
Frye presents a “letter of intent” to the board of directors of the TAA. This is an important
event out of a lot of posturing and repetition of facts, as on this day, the project truly moved
from proposal to an expected realty.
Part of the backing for this proposal, from the beginning, was that Frye was to assume control
of the newly formed company. In this article, it states he was to become president and manager,
in other articles he was to be CEO. Frye was already President-CEO of the Frye Corporation
and had offices at the Tucson Airport and in Dallas. Frye’s reputation as the architect of TWA
was what the new Helio proposal was hinging on, without him, investors were bound to bail.
Some excerpts of the proposal:
In the proposal we have Lynn Bollinger as the new CEO (currently president of Helio)
and Frye, president and manager (this may be mis-reported)
Helio Aircraft will authorize the sale and issuance of company stock
The Frye Corporation will merge with the Helio Corporation
The "newly formed corporation" requests 6 months after moving to raise the required 1 million
Tucson Airport (TAA) agrees to provide adequate production and office space if needed
(I assume this is if another location could not be secured)
TAA will open escrow and hold the proposed $500,000 and this will not be released unless the
full amount is realized
TAA will support underwriters in the sale of stock not to exceed 6 dollars a share
Keep in mind much money has been raised and the stock sale is to make sure the process can
succeed. Underwriters will arrive from New York City in 2 days to iron out the details with Frye,
TAA, and Tucson civic leaders. (Unrelated) TAA agrees to extend airport runway of 12,000 feet
to 15,000 feet. Surcharge fees are discussed for fuel sold at the Tucson Airport which helps
support the airport infrastructure. It was stated that Trans World Airlines currently buys all
fuel from TAA but American Airlines does not.
Helio Update Shares Front Page with the TWA Bandit
September 23, 1958
On Stone Avenue, just a stone’s throw from the Pioneer Hotel, a bandit held up the
Trans World Airline Ticket Office, with a take of $900.00. The "creepy pale bandit" had
recently unsuccessfully held up Belgian World Airline, and later, was killed in shootout by
police at a liquor store in Texas.
On to Helio news (really just an update) which didn’t sound too encouraging. This in lieu of Jack
Frye’s comment as to the lack of financial support at Tucson for the Helio relocation.
As follows- “unless some private individuals that are being talked to about this come up with
something this week, I think we can write it off, so far as Tucson is concerned.” Without going
into detail, the complications arose from the deadline for consummation of the deal, and the
complications of not getting the stock sale through quick enough, and the lack of local funding
from a limited financial base, which at the time was a relatively small community.
Other communities were vying for the Helio plant too, but it seems the funding still would
likely be the issue. Lynn Bollinger spent the weekend in Tucson trying to garner more support,
as accompanied by his senior vice-president, Charles Reinstrom (AA) American Airlines. One
purpose of the trip was that Bollinger wanted to leave a Helio at the airport for promotional
purposes and display. It was conveyed, that even though Helio was virtually an untapped product
in the world of aviation, the company had faced slow expansion because of no capitol and was
virtually unknown. The plane had every potential of blossoming with a stellar safety record,
even a world altitude record of 32,000 feet. The Helio attained speeds between 30 to 160 m.p.h.,
but still Helio faced tough competition from larger aircraft manufacturers. Bollinger related
that they are currently developing a twin Helio. He also stated that capitol had previously
delayed their tooling and only this year have they “completed production tooling” at their
factory. Without money for advertising and sales, Helio still managed to sell 103 planes and buy
their production plant in Pittsburg, KS., (pop. 18,000), by summer of 1956.
Bollinger related, “if this community, now or in the future, wants to bring in small industries
like mine, you need to develop some effective organization that can raise money. Other
communities are doing it.” He continued, “you have a wonderful labor market, you probably
have 4 to 5 thousand people here with labor experience. You have plenty of plant space, and a
good climate, that’s important. Top engineering talent is very selective about where it lives.” He
closed by saying, “we are out to become a major producer, if we are going to become a real
factor, we can’t stay small.”
Is Tucson Letting Helio Slip Away?
September 26, 1958
News services reported that Casa Grande, a neighboring community of Tucson, was stepping up
to the plate in the bid for the touted Helio production facility. With plenty of open land, virtually
undeveloped and unfettered, Casa Grande stands to offer a lucrative offer for Helio. Talks were
scheduled by officials, headed by Dr. T. O’Neil (president of Casa Grande Developers, Inc.) with
Jack Frye this week. Still, many details need be ironed out before such a change in plans could
be implemented. And then there is the monumental issue of funding which seems to be a real
issue everywhere for this fledgling aircraft concern. However, it was implied, that Casa Grande
could easily raise 250 to 500 thousand dollars which sounded encouraging. Tucson had nearly
run out (within a couple days) their deadline to close the deal. Casa Grande had approximately
17,000 in population at the time. I have not been able to find out whatever came of these
negotiations. Likely, Tucson stepped up to the plate, thwarting any attempts by Casa Grande.
Pioneer Hotel to Host Aviation Presentation
by Former TWA President Jack Frye
December 3, 1958
A letter of intent was presented to the Tucson Chamber of Commerce by Jack Frye detailing
the proposition of a new aircraft facility which would employ perhaps as many as 150 workers.
This is the number employed currently at the Helio factory in Pittsburg, KS. Frye is committed
to raise 250,000 dollars from 150 investors, at which point, Frye will become Chairman of the
Board of the Helio organization.
Public Meeting Builds Interest for New Aircraft Production Facility
December 5, 1958
Pioneer Hotel 100 North Stone (now a historic downtown landmark)
Frye meets with the Tucson Chamber of Commerce and local investors to determine if Tucson
can support a move of Helio operations from its current location in Pittsburg, KS. to Tucson.
Initially a pledge of $250.000 is required by Tucson investors to cinch the deal and a deadline
was set for 30-days. Frye stated at the time, “this is the only completely satisfactory STOL
aircraft in the world and I think it can be said to be the world’s safest plane.” Frye also related
that he thought the Helio had great untapped potential in sales and interest. Further details
about the plane were provided to include that the Helio had a speed range between 35 to 175
miles per hour and could land at limited service locations. Tucson aviation and civic leader
Arthur Newton Pack was also on hand and made the statement, “the only time that TWA had a
sound operation and made money was when Frye was president,” he continued, “its wrong to
think you are only investing in a product, you are also investing in the people who can develop
it!” Other Tucson business leaders in attendance were, Ted Walker (homes sales), Harold
Steinfeld (Steinfeld's Department Store), Mundey Johnston (Valley National Bank), Dr. Andrew
Wilson (U of A), and Robert Brickman (laundry and hotelier).
This initial gathering was under-attended, only 20 or so prominent business men and bankers
attended, out of the 270 who were invited but Frye was confident the proposition would take off.
Conjointly to all this, Frye was demonstrating a Helio Courier H 391B to excited prospective
investors around the southwest. Swooping and diving, with fast takeoff and short stops, the
design delighted Frye. The demos took him back, way back, to 1925, when he would perform
before roaring crowds as a member of the 13 Black Cat Hollywood Aerial Stunt Team and when
he demonstrated dozens of newly developed aircraft. A particular Helio Courier which was
thought to be associated with Frye was the N4104D; however, I have not yet been able to
substantiate this association at this time, and frankly, it seems unlikely because of dates.
December 9, 1958
Another fund drive, this time by the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, directed to the “people of
Tucson” not just civic leaders. Everyone is encouraged to come aboard with this golden
opportunity which will secure Tucson’s future in aviation production. Names connected were Ted
Walker as Chairman of the Fund Committee, and trustees listed were Fred Stofft, George
Chambers, Jack Mitchell, and Nick Butera.
The Helio organization was noted as, Lynn Bollinger (president), also it was stated that he had
previously been head of aviation research at the Harvard Graduate School of Business, Otto C.
Koppen, designer of the revolutionary transport (Helio), currently head of aeronautics at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and lastly, Charles Reinstrom who currently served as
senior vice president of American Airlines.
Helio Funds Accumulate
December 19, 1958
Another $55,000 has been banked in the effort to relocate Helio Aircraft to Tucson bringing the
total to $155,000 toward a initial launch goal of $250,000. This recent influx of cash has brought
much hope to those spearheading the proposal. R. W. F. Schmidt (Bob) who is chairman of the
Tucson Chamber of Commerce Helio Fund Committee stated that just 10 men with $5.000 each
could cinch the deal. Meanwhile, Bob’s friend Jack Frye stated that if Helio failed he had
secured another company that would step in and purchase the facility so no one would be left
holding the bag so to speak. This company, Frye stated, was the Four Wheel Drive Company, a
bus and truck company from Wisconsin that was interested in relocating to Tucson. Schmidt
continued, stating, he was extremely optimistic that this venture would greatly improve Tucson’
s economy and would succeed. The sale of $750,000 of Helio stock would further finance the
venture once launched. Co-Chairman with Schmidt, to raise funding, was Robert Brickman.
Jack Frye, former president of Trans World Airlines was said to have recently purchased a
home in Tucson where he plans on permanent residence.
Peru Mining Engineer Extolls the Virtues of the Helio
December 29, 1958
On a short visit home to Tucson, Harold Black of Southern Peru Copper Corporation was snared
by the Helio fund raising committee to give a talk on the virtues of the Helio airship. Black
stated, “it can do things you would never think possible.” Black continued, stating the Helio
could take off at 50 to 60 feet on limited clearance fields and even land at 16,000 feet in thin air
(where even helicopters cannot operate). Most amazing he said was the time they had to land
due to engine failure (caused by unskilled Peru mechanics) on a rocky hillside. They had
envisioned dismantling the plane and hauling it out of the unlikely takeoff ravine. But after
installing a new engine the little plane took right off over boulders and impossible terrain. This,
he said, is the testament of the Helio! The company has used the Helio to save lives by flying
injured people out of mountainous regions difficult to navigate by air.
The Count Down….1959
Cuban Revolution Interrupts Helio Final Agreement
January 8, 1959
With an unfortunate chain of events the final stages of the Helio deal at Tucson were delayed.
This after the community had successfully raised the required 250 thousand dollar loan needed
for the project to successfully proceed. Lynn Bollinger was to meet with Jack Frye for the final
phase in a conference planned for January 8. In the interim Bollinger had a window of a couple
days before the meeting, so he decided to deliver a new Helio to Jamaica first; however, as
reported by Jack Frye who received communication January 7 from Bollinger, he had
encountered difficulty on the trip. In transit to Jamaica, Bollinger had the misfortune of landing
at Cuba for fuel; however, once on the ground he realized he had just descended into a volatile
situation, a coup. His plane was mobbed by guerrillas and looters who had immobilized the
airport and refueling was impossible. Fighting for his life and almost being completely subdued,
Bollinger received a fractured elbow with the altercation. Only because he was able to negotiate
with American dollars was he allowed to proceed, quickly lifting off amid gunfire and militant
fighting to the safety of the sky. The Helio president continued to Jamaica sans items plundered
from his ship, like luggage, camera, watch, etc. Items the rebel looters retained. Frye stated
that Bollinger had contacted him from Washington D.C. but before he could leave for Tucson
again he needed to seek medical treatment at Boston. Thus the conference was delayed with no
reschedule date. Frye was disappointed but relieved that Bollinger escaped relatively unscathed.
In a more peaceful time (in early 1941) Jack and his new wife Helen Vanderbilt had spent part
of their honeymoon in Cuba, having flown down there in his private transport, the Lockheed
Electra Jr., NC18137. It would be a long time before private planes from the U.S. landed in Cuba
again safely, especially TWA transports.
Is Helio's Move to Tucson Doomed?
February 3, 1959
The next event was so unimaginable, so bizarre and without reason, that still, after some 60
years, the Frye family cannot yet totally come to terms with the tragedy. For this is the day that
Jack Frye died, not in a plane as would have been expected but in an automobile.
Several hours before he was killed, Frye took off from the Tucson Municipal Airport with his
friend Robert Schmidt where the two discussed Helio business in the air while circling Tucson
for about an hour. Once on the ground, the two men went their own directions, both, having
offices at the airport. This event was more than a random flight, though, it would be Frye’s last
sojourn in the air, his last experience of flight, on a warm sunny afternoon, over a city where it
all begin in 1927. The plane was said to be a Helio Courier per R.W. F. Schmidt (Feb. 4, press
After Jack landed and tied down, he bid Bob goodbye and proceeded to a secret meeting, a
meeting thought to have been with Howard Hughes, at the Hughes Missile facility (Ratheon
currently). In the meeting, they supposedly came to an agreement (according to the last phone
call from Frye to California, made with Hughes standing by. An agreement of finance for the
Safari project, and perhaps a facility for the Helio, it is not known the details, just that Frye left
with a feeling of accomplishment. He and Howard were again going to work toward a goal, a goal
they once shared enthusiastically when they offered the Constellation to the world and the
realization of trans-world air service for Transcontinental and Western Air.
Jack left the plant and proceeded to the intersection of Ajo Way and Palo Verde Road; however,
as he approached the two streets, a drunk driver carelessly shot through her stop sign, at over
50 miles an hour. Frye happened to be in the center of the intersection at just the wrong time.
The ensuing impact was a deadly blow, the intruding vehicle hit Frye's (1959 Ford Fairlane 500
rental car) so horrendously, that it not only locked the two vehicles together and spun them
around, but Frye was ejected like a missile in an instant projecting him out of his vehicle to a
point 40 feet away (initial reports stated, 30 feet). This from the point of impact, while his
vehicle continued to roll another 178 feet out in the desert. The drunk driver of the station
wagon? She was not even injured. From a deafening crash, which was heard for miles, silence
soon descended over the scene of Frye's crumpled body, surrounded by broken glass and blood.
After just a couple minutes, a sheriff cruiser arrived, after which, the mournful sound of an
ambulance was heard. The time was 6:50 P.M., The fatally injured Frye died later at St Mary’s
Hospital at 8:35 P.M. His death was front page news around the nation, an aviation legend cut
down, leaving behind a young daughter and a wife. This day is documented in detail on Page
1959. Helio, as well, suffered a deadly blow, for without Frye the move to Tucson was surely
February 4, 1959
As one can well imagine, the aftermath of Frye’s death caused much complication for the
pending Helio relocation, let alone, Frye’s estate. He had recently bought a home in Tucson and
his office was at the airport. For 6 more months (a total of 1 year) the Helio deal struggled
along, amid an inquest into Frye’s death, and a $252,000 lawsuit filed by his estranged wife. This
resulted in an arrest and jail time for the drunk driver, as explained on Page 1959. Safari was
shelved forever, there would never be another Frye innovation in the air, but Helio, possibly
some hope. The media was flooded with news regarding the death and the ensuing legal issues
but we will focus on those reports specific to Helio.
It was reported on February 4, that a few hours before his death (Feb. 3), Frye and Tucson
Airport head R. W. F. (Bob) Schmidt had flown over Tucson where they discussed the future of
the Helio project. “In our conversations last night, Jack told me that he hoped to have the Helio
here and in operation by June 30, stated Schmidt, also relating, that they had flown in the Helio.
A stunned Lynn Bollinger (contacted by phone) had this to say to the press from his home in
Concord, MA. (where he was convalescing from a virus infection) “Frye will be tremendously
missed…. I will come to Tucson within the next few days and it will be with the feeling of "how
do we go ahead, despite this tragic loss.” Bollinger felt that Frye had worked out a guideline so
specific that the project could likely move forward in spite of the tragedy. He was hopeful.
Robert Schmidt stated that a New York concern had indicated, just recently, that at this point a
national stock sale for Helio could finally be underwritten. Indeed, Tucson had “stepped up to
the plate” securing a $365,000 trust fund toward the relocation which was secured in a trust
account at the Tucson Valley National Bank.
Bollinger continued, by stating, when he was in Tucson last, Frye had conveyed to him, “that if
anything happened to him (Frye) that certain long term conditions and commitments must be
honored.” Some of this is evident by the following equation- the press made mention of the fact
that the money raised was pledged in regard to an official "Letter of Intent" between the
Tucson Chamber of Commerce, Frye, and Helio. Legal problems resulting from the death of
Frye must be reconciled before Helio could proceed. One wrinkle was, that under the
agreement, Frye was to become Helio’s C.E.O. (The loss of Frye certainly did present some
challenges. This because Frye staked his reputation and management skills on the success of
Helio. His involvement added a lot of weight to the proposition.) Fred Stofft (soon to be a
pallbearer at Frye’s funeral) was also former president of the Tucson Airport Authority and a
trustee of the Helio fund. He summed it up, as follows “it won’t be easy without Jack…. but I
feel that Tucson can pull this off, if it wants it badly enough.” The current T.A.A. president,
Edward O. Earl, echoed Stofft’s sentiments, as did another trustee, George Chambers.
Frederick R. Stofft, a good friend of Frye's was also a 3-star Brigadier General and Commander
of the Arizona National Guard.
Douglas Aircraft Seeks to Fill Empty Space at Plant
February 10, 1959
Ben Clawson announced that the Douglas Aircraft Co., currently in operation at the Tucson, will
not be surrendering its lease with TAA. Currently they employ 450 workers on the Douglas
R B66, and DC 8 fabrications. The company is in transition, with gearing up of missile
production, but does not anticipate relocating such endeavors to Tucson. They do; however,
operate the Thor Missile Training School locally. Douglas was negotiating with Jack Frye before
his untimely death on a possible sub-lease with Helio and also (unrelated) Cannon Electric Co.
On an aside, it was Donald Douglas Sr. and Jack Frye who developed the DC series airliners
(1932) a product which helped Douglas explode into a major aviation player, worldwide.
Tucson To Get Helio By June 30
February 27, 1959
Helio president, Lynn Bollinger, temporarily relocated to Tucson, vowing he will stay until the
Helio deal is finalized. The death of former TWA president Jack Frye had severely crippled the
efforts to bring Helio to Tucson but with the $385,000 already raised by Tucson (held in trust)
Bollinger felt that the difference could be made up with Helio stock sales, netting the company
the required 1 million the move required. Tucson Chamber of Commerce attorney, James P.
Boyle, handled current negotiations at his offices. Recently, Helio sold three planes to the U.S.
Air Force, which has a large base in Tucson (Davis-Monthan A.F.B.).
Lawsuit Filed in Frye Death
March 17, 1959
A lawsuit was filed in regard of Frye’s death by his widow Nevada Frye against the driver that
hit and killed Jack Frye. The lawsuit contended that Frye had left behind a 5-year-old child and
widow, having been cut down in the prime of his earning years. This lawsuit was brought in part
to Frye’s involvement in the Helio, and Frye Safari business propositions. Detailed as follows, in
part, “….Frye had extensive business interests, was at the peak of his career, would have
engaged in many future business activities, and would have earned and accumulated large sums
in the future, had he not been killed….”
Helio Board of Directors at N.Y.C. Approve Move to Tucson
March 25, 1959
In a major turn of events the Helio Board of Directors approved a move forward by president
Lynn Bollinger to secure and finalize the Helio relocation proposal. This on the basis of Tucson
having raised 384,000 dollars in an endorsement of the relocation. The move was to take place
between June 30 and September 30, 1959. After the move, and within 6 months, Helio expected
to employ 150 to 200 workers initially, with 25 key personnel moving from the Pittsburg
operation to assume positions at Tucson. Within 36 months, Bollinger stated, it was his
expectation that Helio would employ 1000 aircraft workers at Tucson. This prediction he said
was realistic. Preliminary production space of 50,000 square feet will be leased by Helio from
Douglas Aircraft which held leases at the Tucson Airport and was downsizing their production
The dilemma of how to replace Frye within the organization had been solved according to
Bollinger who stated that American Airlines senior vice-president Charles A. Reinstrom had
been elected and had assumed Chairman of the Board of Helio Aircraft Company, as of this
date. Bollinger stated the position had been reserved for Jack Frye but he elected Reinstrom
and he (Bollinger) had since resigned the position. Reinstrom will continue as an executive with
American Airlines, as well.
Tucson Chamber $384,000 loan to Helio Returned
March 30, 1959
At the Pioneer, Bollinger announced the out of the Helio stock sale ($5.10 a share) a 1.2 million
block will be reserved for Arizona investors. All investors who put up the $384,000 loan toward
the relocation of Helio can now exchange their contribution for stock. Bollinger stated that
Helio no longer needed the loan, as the company could raise the money with the stock sale.
Originally, the loan was required first, before a stock sale, but the board of directors at Helio
gave the go ahead for the sale and an O.K. for a move when $500,000 was secured. New
developments announced at the meeting were that Ryan Aeronautical Co. (San Diego) had
agreed to help Helio with engineering, Helio had a new $500,000 contract for production of
aircraft, this will include the highly regarded 200 m.p.h. twin Helio, and Douglas Aircraft Co.
will provide with Helio with preliminary production space.
Helio and Tucson, an Impasse Over Production Space
Trumped by Howard Hughes
May 15, 1959
Seemingly, the Helio move was finally undone by the lack of production facilities at Tucson. The
move hinged on not a lack of funding but at this point rather the goodwill gesture from Douglas
who offered 1/2 their leased space (sub-lease) to the fledgling Helio.
American Airlines executive and Helio C.E.O. Charles Reinstrom immediately caught a flight to
Tucson after the stunning revelation was put forth to Helio that Douglas had withdrawn their
offer. Tucson Airport Authority, who had wholly backed Helio at one point when Frye was still
involved, had seemingly put the last nail in the coffin for Helio when they reneged on a
agreement with Douglas and Helio, and rented the entire leased Douglas space to Hughes Tool
Company. It was not revealed why T.A.A. went with Hughes Corp., perhaps, simply because
Hughes had such a proven presence in Tucson.
Reinstrom hoped that T.A.A. would be able to provide an alternative location for the new Helio
plant, this being available land, Ryan Field hangars, or at space which may become available at
the Tucson Airport. Also at the meeting was Lynn Bollinger who mentioned Jack Frye, in
saying, “we were asked to investigate the Ryan Field hangars a long time ago and both Jack
Frye, and I, concluded those old wood buildings were worthless for our needs.” Reinstrom added
that current facilities available at Ryan Field were no place to start an aircraft company from
scratch. Helio had not planned on staying in the Douglas hangars permanently, just initially.
The loss of these mainstream facilities proved a deadly blow to Helio.
In the end, we have a struggle toward relocation that went on for a year and basically ended
with an anti-climax. Helio sincerely desired a move to Tucson but the odds seemingly were
against them from the beginning. A doomed move to a premium manufacturing market all
undone by a myriad of difficulties. Some of those roadblocks were overcome, some were not.
Difficulties with funding, the tragic loss of a future C.E.O. and advocate (Frye), and lastly the
loss of their future facility location.
Helio, it appeared, did not have the capitol to move forward if they had to buy their own
manufacturing facility (land) and construct their own buildings. The company was depending on
Tucson Airport Authority to provide such, in an incentive of facilities, geared toward snaring the
promising young Helio to Tucson. But in the end, the complications of the relocation could not
be resolved and Helio would not see the Catalina Mountains from their office windows. The End
Sedona Legend Editorial
A quote and story as related in "This Week" by Jane and Woodrow Wirsig best describes Jack
Frye from the earliest years, 'it was a hot night in Phoenix Arizona in 1927, bored and restless
reporters were sitting around in the city room of the local newspaper, when in strode a tall
gangling stranger wearing grease covered work clothes with goggles pushed up under his
flier's helmet, "My name’s Jack Frye," he announced, "I’m going to start an air line here and
I’d like to tell someone about it."' This, folks, was the man and the beginning of the legend. In
just three years this effort would become one of the foundation stones of TWA. A remarkable
moment in the history of aviation and one of my favorite stories about this aviation legend!
Jack Frye to Assume Chairman of the Board of Helio Corporation
-Once Tucson Site and Funding is Secured
Helio Aircraft Company Tucson History
Closing With a Poignant Memory of Frye From 1927
The last 2 notations I have located in media files connecting Frye with Helio appears below-
“GAC is headed by Mr Lynn Bollinger, who in 1966 revived the late Jack Frye's company of the
same name. Mr Bollinger is also founder and president of Helio — the makers of remarkably
STOL single-engined utility aircraft.” Source Flight International Volume 94 (1968)
"Currently in final design stages, the GAC-100 is targeted for production this October with first
flight in March 1970. The company actually was begun some years ago by the late Jack Frye,
formerly president of Trans World Airlines.” American Aviation Volume 32 (1969)
Jack Frye and General Aircraft Corporation
With Jack Frye's penchant for numerology he
chose his birthday (March 18, 1957) for the
sale of the new Safari transport. This date was
a milestone event for him and pinnacle of his
career- the sale of an aircraft he himself
envisioned and designed. The correlation of
key dates and events extends back to Jack's
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. days.
To the left, Jack meets with Donald C.
McBain, president of Catalina Airlines to
finalize the sale of (2) Safaris with option of
(2) more. It is not known if the historic
meeting was at Catalina Island or Ft. Worth.
This transaction was close to Frye's heart as
he had negotiated air service for Catalina
early on with his Standard Air Lines and later
Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. Most
importantly though, Jack was the first aviator
to ever land a 'land-plane' on Catalina Island,
previously the island was serviced exclusively
by seaplanes. Coupled with this, always the
entrepreneur, Jack delivered newspapers to
the island, too, in the mid-1920's.
Credit: The image seen above was originally used by a media-news agency. The image was not
owned by news service agencies around the country which reproduced the image, rather it was
on loan. The original photographer is unknown and this image is not thought to hold a renewed
(current) copyright. This original vintage 1957 photo is owned by Sedona Legend. Further
information regarding photos seen on Sedona Legend can be found at the bottom of Page 2010.
Frye Safari- an Overview
Historical Event- March 18, 1957 @ 53 Years Old